Monday, May 24, 2010

Purple Rain

Yesterday was my friend, L's, birthday. She has been my friend since the summer before our freshman year in high school. We recently were lucky enough to reconnect over Thanksgiving and that makes me so happy! They say there's nothing like the love of an old friend and I truly believe that. Who else would see you through years of bad hair days, bad fashion choices, broken hearts, high school drama and let's face it, some years of total geekdom and still love you? Who would tell you that your home perm really didn't look like a frizz mop and who else would help you with tests for an entire year in Geometry? When the chips are down, who are you going to turn to? Your bff, plain and simple.

Our friendship started at band camp before our freshman year. I was filtering into the high school from the smallest school of the three that filtered in. My mother thought I should join marching band. I am not quite sure why because my trumpet playing left A LOT to be desired. Like, last seat, at all times. Truthfully, I hated playing the trumpet and really wanted to play the drums. I was forced into some hand me down trumpet. My brother, mysteriously, got to play drums. Shiny, new drums. I had a tarnished trumpet. Still a sore point. Anyway, I entered into marching band, we headed off to band camp (I know, I know..This one time at band camp...) and I met L and some of her friends from her school. I don't remember details but we all got along and L and I struck up a friendship that would last to this day.

I won't go into our many adventures, triumphs, failures, embarrassments, groundings and broken hearts of those years. Our high school times were a mixed bag of the best of times and the worst of times. I wouldn't trade them for the world.

L and I ventured off to college at the same university. It really wasn't L's scene and she understandably transferred to a university that she felt better suited her over Christmas break. I decided to stay at the university we started and both of us found enjoyable college experiences. We reunited during summer breaks and quickly fell back into our easy patterns of hanging out, 24/7. We both worked at the mall, we would work, lay in the sun as much as we could, found parties in the evenings and never missed a happy hour at any given establishment.

The summer that will always stand out in my mind and would end up being our greatest memory of all time was a summer that we like to call, The Purple Rain Summer. It was the summer between our sophomore and junior years. The details are fuzzy but the fun remains etched in my mind.

For some reason that we still cannot recall, L's parents decided to vacation all summer, that summer. Much to our surprise and delight, they were leaving L home, alone, like.....what??? I know I stress this, often, but times were different back then and parents did leave us all alone, a lot. They would leave us with food and money and a list of instructions. But, no parents had left for a summer. With L having free reign over her house! We were free...Hello Summer of Fun!!

It was also the summer that the Prince movie, Purple Rain was released. I remember that we went with a group of friends to see it after we got off work at the mall. That was a great benefit of being a mall rat. We sat and L and I were blown away by Purple Rain. Now, it is always in the category as one of the best rock musicals of all times and is a cult classic. Back then, we had no idea it would make history. We just knew that we loved, were obsessed with it and returned to see it many times for as long as it was playing at the local theatre. MTV was still a rockin' force, back then, and whenever the Purple Rain soundtrack would play a song, we would stop and just stare at the tv while it played.

This was the same time that L's parents went off on their trip. I don't remember where they went or how long they were to be gone but I do remember moving busloads of stuff to L's house, working two jobs that summer, staying up all night, most nights and surviving on little sleep, lots of caffeine and yes, the wine. With all of our socializing and Purple Raining, that summer, we also met a whole bunch of people, all the time. New people and old friends we were reaquainting with. Actually, we knew no enemies, that summer. Back then, again, things were not as scary as they are now and you could invite strangers to your home and have 2am cookouts. Well, okay, it does sound scary, now, and we were probably very lucky to survive but hey...we were young and it was the summer of '84. We didn't care. Our cookouts were where we got some of our earliest cooking lessons. We grilled, everything. And, we learned how to make the most awesome baked beans using Lambrusco wine..who knew? In fact, we added wine to everything that summer. Purple wine, Purple Rain...

Of course, like all good things, the summer of '84 had to come to a close. Her parents were returning, I think my mother was just noticing that I had gone missing for the whole summer and we had to pack for college. It was probably a good thing because how much more fun could two college age girls have on a summer on their own? A lot, I am sure of it, but after 50,000 trips to the movies to see Purple Rain, about that many cookouts, holding crazy work schedules and club hopping and concert going, it was time to give our livers, er, brains a was time to move back to college and get serious, again. Oh, I make myself laugh. Serious? Us?

But, it's so fun to have one summer that is so packed with good times and good fun and good memories. Many details to The Purple Rain Summer will remain under the lock and key of our own private stash of memories but it was a great memory of a great friendship that I am happy to still be a part of.

Happy Birthday, L!! We are in our second half of our forties and still rockin' it!

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